The clock is ticking on the Phoenix Suns, not the one above their basket or in their war room during draft night, but the one hovering over Deandre Ayton and his rookie deal.
Last year, Ayton put together a fantastic playoff performance. His 15.8 points per game, 11.8 rebounds per game, and 67.4 true shooting percentage catapulted his team to the NBA Finals, driving many to presume him as the game’s next great big man.
Also with Ayton becoming eligible for an extension to his rookie contract after last season, everyone from the fans, all the way up to Chris Paul fully expected the Phoenix front office to hand him a blank check.
But as we learned last week, the Suns feel reluctant doing so, and have yet to strike a deal with Ayton’s camp. Phoenix has only until Oct. 18 to draw up an extension, and if they fail, then Ayton becomes a restricted free agent next summer.
Acknowledging the nonexistent extension for himself, Ayton explained that he felt “really disappointed” yesterday. He also mentioned that he just wants to “be respected.”
Earlier this summer, several other players from his draft class like Trae Young, Luka Doncic, and Michael Porter Jr. all agreed to lucrative extensions, but Ayton’s pockets remain empty. Adding further weight to this issue, teammate Mikal Bridges also stands eligible for extension, which the Suns are also withholding at this time.
Although the Suns might still re-sign Ayton as a restricted free agent should they fail to reach an agreement, the objective behind an extension is to avoid any distrust or discomfort between a player and a team’s front office. With this statement from Ayton though, it feels as if he might already harbor some of those feelings.
Ayton still made it clear that his relationship with his teammates remains unhinged by all this. He continues to work as a full participant during team practices, and played over 20 minutes during his last two preseason contests.